What's not to like about cabernet sauvignon, the king of the red wines with its deep berry flavours, smooth tannins and hints of spice and cedar? The grape's thick skin and resistance to disease has seen it spread from Europe to the new world with wines of consistently high quality coming from Australia, South Africa, Chile and California. It adds a new dimension to meals (especially lamb or game) but can also be enjoyed with cheese or even dark chocolate. If it's quality you want at a reasonable price you can't go wrong with cabernet sauvignon.
1. Marques Casa Concha Cabernet Sauvignon, Concha y Toro 2014, 14%: £8.50, Asda
This is a limited edition cabernet from a highly regarded Chilean winemakers situated in the foothills of the Andes, some 650 metres above sea level. Winemaker Marcelo Papa picks his grapes early to produce a fresher style of cabernet with deep blackcurrant and blackberry flavours and smooth tannins. Perfect with cheese and a steal at this price.
2. Wynns Coonawarra Estate The Gables Cabernet Sauvignon 2014, 13%: £16 (£96, case of six), Marks & Spencer
Named in honour of this Australian winery’s triple-gabled main building, this is an outstanding cabernet from renowned wine-maker Sue Hodder. It’s medium bodied, but complex with notes of dark cherry and blackberries plus a hint of spice and a woody aroma. A marvellous accompaniment to lamb dishes.
3. Kleine Zalze Family Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2009, 15%: £31.99, The Wine Reserve
Pricey, but this exceptional South African cabernet is made from specially selected grapes grown in alluvial, oakleaf and granite soils, which are then hand-picked and matured in French oak barrels. It gives lots of intense berry flavours plus hints of liquorice and cedar. There’s a beautiful, lingering aftertaste, too, but a high alcohol content, so be wary.
4. 16 Little Black Pigs Cabernet Sauvignon 2014, 14%: £8.99, Virgin Wines
Here’s a porky little number from a south-eastern Australian vineyard that takes its name from the pigs which roam in the scrub at the rear of the winery. Full-bodied and dark, it has lashings of bramble and dark berry flavours with herb notes and a long, extremely pleasant finish. Sadly, it’s better paired with lamb than with pork.
5. Tokara Cabernet Sauvignon 2013, 14.5%: £14.99, SA Wines Online
From South Africa’s premier wine-making area, Stellenbosch, this is a blend of 85 per cent cabernet sauvignon, 7 per cent merlot, 6 per cent petit verdot and 2 per cent malbec, producing a rich, ruby-red wine that’s overflowing with flavours of dark plum and blackcurrant. Ultra smooth tannins and long aftertaste add to its appeal.
6. Casas del Bosque Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2013, 14%: £10.49, Butlers Wine Cellar
From Chile’s Casablanca Valley, this is a rich and rewarding cabernet with notes of the three Cs – cherry, coffee and cinnamon, as well as silky tannins. Matured in French oak barrels for 10 months, there’s strong plum and cassis flavour here, with a hint of nutmeg.
7. Simon Hackett Foggo Road Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2012, 14%: £17.95, Rude Wines
Australian winemaker Simon Hackett tells us on the bottle that it’s been a pleasure to make this wine for us. Well, it’s a pleasure to drink it, too, jam-packed as it is with intense berry flavours, hints of vanilla and spice and blessed with a lingering and luscious finish. Enjoy it with meat dishes or even dark chocolate.
8. Don Melchor Cabernet Sauvignon, Puente Alto, Concha y Toro 2012, 14.5%: Tanners Wine Merchants
Want to splash out? Try this truly superb Chilean cabernet from the Puente Alto vineyard at the foothills of the Andes. Back in the Eighties the winery contacted the Boissenot family of Bordeaux to help them produce a fine wine and this is the result. A blend of cabernet sauvignon (93 per cent) and one of cabernet franc (7 per cent), it’s a beautifully fruity wine with spice notes. It’s good with lamb and game or cheese.
9. Katnook Founder's Block, Cabernet Sauvignon 2014, 13.5%: £11.99, Waitrose Cellar
Named after the original landholding of John Riddoch, the founder of the Australian Coonawarra wine region, this cabernet blends heritage with honesty in a complex wine that offers oodles of plums, cassis and cedar, and provides a long and lingering finish. If there’s an Indian summer, it would be a perfect accompaniment to slow barbecued beef.
10. Geyser Peak Walking Tree Cabernet Sauvignon 2013, 14%: £10.99, Waitrose Cellar
This is a Californian wine from the Alexander Valley, which boasts a huge variety of terroir and microclimates. Flavours of mocha, cassis and black cherry abound here with notes of spice and smoky vanilla to back things up. The name comes from a local phenomenon, a large oak tree that “walked” down a steep slope during heavy rains.
11. Robert Oatley Finisterre Cabernet Sauvignon, Margaret River 2013, 13.5%: £20.95, Wine Direct
The name of winemaker alone, Larry Cherubino, should be intriguing enough to make you want to sample this, a top-notch cabernet from the renowned Australian Robert Oatley winery. Hand-picked at a single vineyard, the Finisterre is a complex but rewarding wine with lots of layers of black cherry and dark berries backed by smooth tannins.
12. 9/9 Cabernet Fût de Chêne 2011, 13%: £21.90, Alpine Wines
A cabernet from Switzerland’s second largest wine town, Satigny, this is a bit of a mystery, in that the winemakers won’t specify which cabernet grapes are being used. Although there’s obviously plenty of cabernet sauvignon and some cabernet franc, there could also be cabernet jura and other unspecified cabernet grapes. Still, the end result, like the mystery, is rich, dark (almost black in fact) with deep cherry and fruit flavours.
13. Lof Cabernet Sauvignon D.O. Maipo 2014, 13%: £19.99, Virgin Wines
Another Chilean delight from the village of Alto Jahuel in the Maipo Valley, this is the result of a personal project by winemaker German Lyon who wanted to make small production wines from selected vines. Aged in French barrels, it has that intense dark berry flavour along with spices notes and long, lingering finish. Perfect paired with game.
14. Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon 2013, 14%: £14.69, SA Wines Online
This is a cabernet from the award-winning Jordan Wine Estate in the Stellenbosch Valley. It allies progressive techniques (gravity pumps) with traditional winemaking procedures (French oak barrels) to produce a full-flavoured wine that’s rich in berry, cedar and toasty vanilla flavours.
15. Saumur Chateau Fouquet 2014, 12.5%: £12.75, Yapp
An organic cabernet franc from a single vineyard situated just outside the Saumur Champigny appellation, this is smooth and well-rounded from winemaker Paul Filliatreau, who uses older, tried and tested methods to tend his grapes. Bursting with fruit flavours, it’s an ideal partner for cheese or charcuterie.
The Katnook Founder's Block, Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 gives you bucketsful of dark fruit flavours at a good price, while another Australian winery, Robert Oatley provides a superb wine from a single vineyard. The top of the range Kleine Zalze Family Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 is great if you want to splash out, while the Chilean vineyards offer great value and superlative flavours. Our Best Buy is the Marques Casa Concha Cabernet Sauvignon, Concha y Toro 2014 at only £8.50.
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